05.03.2017 28 °C
After yesterday being so long and full we decided to book a little retreat away from the city to get a little R&R from all the sightseeing we've done lately. It was a 1.5 hour drive to the Red Sea and we'd spend the day at a resort on the beach with a pool and a bar. The day trip was quite expensive, and we had low expectations since so much of Egypt has not been what we thought it would be, but the photos of the resort looked great and I had read about this little town before. Although we were told we could buy drinks at the resort, we packed the bottle of wine we were gifted and four of the 10% (!!) Egyptian beers we had bought for the hotel, just in case. Yes I forgot to mention, the liquor delivery service got us 10% beers which we have gone though quite slowly haha.
Mansour picked us up at 8 in the morning and we set out for the drive through the desert. He suggested we get bottled water since they would cost more at the resort, and my spidey sense was already tingling as we paid quite a bit per person to go to this resort, so why did we have to being our own water? They desert was vast and kind of eerie, and the two hour drive had mostly the exact same scenery. Once we reached the sea we made a turn and found the resort. It looked decent from the outside, but the town was dead and not quite what the vibrant blogs I read spoke about. Mansour went in to talk to them about our stay, and we were out in the car waiting getting very antsy to start relaxing! So we walked in and Mansour gave us the tour. We saw a very fancy lobby, then a run down pool with a few beat up lounge chairs. All of the rooms that we saw looked completely empty, it almost felt like an apocalypse.
The beach looked really nice, but time can't really run down a beach! I wish I took a photo but we were too much in awe at that point. They also had a beach bar, score! But when we asked about drinks they said they don't have any. We asked if we could use their beach bar fridge, since nobody else was, they said yes. Score! They had a few plastic cups laying around for my wine, we're gold.
The host, who spoke no English, showed Josh and I to separate rooms to change. They were DISGUSTING, they had no beds where beds should be, the bathrooms were disgusting and I stood in an inch of water to change.
We got out and I asked for towels, Mansour translated and the host said that sorry, towels aren't allowed by the pool. Ummmmmm, k. Mansour said he had one in his car we could use. Ok, my patience was wearing thin. So we busted out our drinks to put in the fridge, and the host picks up the phone to make a call and motions for us not to go near the fridge. He's on the phone for maybe 2 minutes, hangs up and tells us in broken English that alcohol is not allowed on the property, in public places, only in the rooms. You mean in the rooms you just showed us? We were done. No towels, no liquor, a nasty pool, and a place that looked like it hadn't been used since the revolution, which was probably true!
We found Mansour in the lobby and we explained that we just wanted to go back to Cairo. Our patience was tested and we were not spending the money we spent on that place. He suggested we try the other resorts that line the Red Sea, and we were just not into it.
As we drove for maybe 20 minutes, totally perplexed and frustrated that we were wasting our day driving in the desert, we decided to bust out those 10% beers and at least get some R&R on the drive. Mansour had no problem with that, and while you can't drink in the majority of the country, there's no rules on open alcohol in a vehicle! Cheers to that. Two of those each and we were feeling good for our drive home. We even stoped for a desert selfie.
There were outlets we passed on the way so we decided to stop there and see what kind of sales they had. They were regular Canadian prices so we didn't buy anything, but I did find a cute scarf on sale so I bought that. I needed something positive from Egypt!
Throughout the drive we talked again about intuition and how we have to trust our gut. What we intended for the day was just to go to the Marriott or Four Seasons and ask to use their pool for the day. Our hotel, being the planners and hosts that they are, talked us into this trip. And while I'm sure it was fantastic pre-revolution, I don't think a tourist has been there since, nor do I think our hotel has had tourists book these tours to see the condition of those places. We also contemplated changing our flights to get one more day in Israel, wondering how much that would cost, but nothing could be done until we got back to our hotel and figured it out. Thank goodness we had Mansour as our driver, we had some good chats and laughs with him.
Being on the road for 5 hours we decided just to get some food and go back to the hotel. We had a huge lunch at a place recommended and we finally got back to our home sweet home.
Muhammad and Karim, the brothers who run or hotel, were so sweet in trying to plan our days for us. They truly have gone above and beyond to make our stay amazing. But Egypt is not ready for tourists. As Muhammad tried to recommend other hotels, I pointed out that their last reviews for the property were from 2011. That's unheard of! The Marriott and the other big hotels have plenty of recent reviews. But these ones they use for tourism and day trips have been completely dead since 2011, and in my opinion it will take a lot of renovation to get this city ready for tourists again.
As I write this we're watching a movie in our room, where we've been R&R'ing since we got back. There's more than 600 channels and we found 4 with English. Josh made a few calls and the Hilton does allow outside guests to use their pool for a small fee. Instead of changing around our entire flight and hotel plans we are gonna go at it again tomorrow. It can't get much worse! And then we have to leave the hotel at 11:30 pm for our 3:10am flight to Tel-Aviv, so we'll come back and try and get some sleep before we have a super long day of travel.
More tears from me today in frustration that I feel like we've wasted so much time here. Between the traffic, language barrier, hassling, plans falling through, etc etc. I just wanted our time in Egypt to be over. But just yesterday we were standing in a 5000 year old tomb under a pyramid! Life isn't so rough after all. Glad to have Josh by my side keeping me sane, and really looking forward to the last leg of our trip in Athens and Israel!